Every week, we ask a real estate professional for their Short List, a collection of tips and recommendations on an essential topic in real estate. This week, we talked with Melissa Wakamo, the principal broker of Red Robin Group and the team leader of Wakamo & Associates, for her top business planning strategies for agents.
Have you ever wondered why some agents achieve top producing status, while most just do OK? What do those successful agents do differently? And, what can the average agent do to reach their full potential?
Simply, the difference is execution. Top-producing agents have a plan and they execute it. An effective business plan is imperative, and an important component of the plan must include an execution strategy (called tactics) to keep an agent focused on the important things to accomplish each day.
Here are my top five business planning strategies:
5. Use Short Planning Cycles – A year in the real estate industry might as well be a lifetime. Things change quickly, and it’s impossible to make a plan on Jan. 1 to define what you will need to do in December. In addition, an annual plan allows for complacency – in the first few months, there is no sense of urgency because the whole year is ahead. In October, with the realization that the planned strategies aren’t relevant anymore, the plan is tossed and we “plan for next year.” I like to use a 12-week plan – it’s long enough to see results, but short enough to instill a sense of urgency.
4. Use Lead and Lag Indicators – Lag indicators are goals for what you want to accomplish in the future. For example, obtain 10 new listings, achieve $50K in gross commission or recruit three agents. Lead indicators are your key execution strategies – the actual tactics for which you will measure execution. For example, make 10 calls each morning to ask for referrals, have coffee with three agents each week or call 15 expired listings each week. Both are vitally important to a good business plan.
3. Focus on a few important tasks – Agents who implement a business plan that is focused will achieve the best results. Choose, at most, three to five goals and make them the most important. Then, think about the things you need to do each day or week to reach those goals. Don’t try to do too much or achieve a whole year’s worth of business in 12 weeks. Focus on what’s most important.
2. Block your time – This isn’t a new concept, but it bears repeating. Block the time on your calendar to execute the most important tactics you will accomplish every day or week. If you are too busy taking care of daily business to focus on executing your plan, it’s time to hire an assistant.
1. Include personal and business goals – Agents often struggle with work and life balance. But, the truth is that there will be times when work is a priority, and also times when you need to focus on your personal life. Using shorter business cycles as described above allows the plan to ebb and flow with the changes in life and work. It is OK to have “intentional imbalance,” meaning your plan may skew toward more business goals in some planning cycles and may be include more personal goals at other times. The important takeaway is that, as business owners, our personal and business lives are entwined, and it’s best to approach business planning in a way that includes personal goals as well.
Business planning is often overlooked by agents; yet, it’s a critical difference between average performance and amazing achievement. My best advice: be an active participant in your real estate business. Be the driver of your success, rather than letting your business drive your daily activities.
Melissa Wakamo is the principal broker of Red Robin Group, a boutique real estate brokerage, and the team leader of Wakamo & Associates, a team of residential real estate professionals serving Atlanta’s East Side Intown neighborhoods, including Grant Park, Ormewood Park, East Atlanta and Cabbagetown. A long-time resident of Ormewood Park, Melissa became the No. 1 agent in Ormewood Park and East Atlanta shortly after getting into real estate, and she led Red Robin Group to the top 1 percent of agents in Metro Atlanta in 2009.